Posted on: August 26, 2019
We talk a lot about executive functions like creativity, time management, persistence, and planning. But that’s a lot to process.
With school starting soon, you may need to be more independently engaged, organized, and motivated than you have been in the past. We thought we’d give you a quick cheat-sheet to help you stay effective in your studying efforts this fall, whether in person or online.
- View Processes as Experiments: When something isn’t working, track the impact of what you can vary (place, time, duration, setting, etc.) on your performance.
- Become Comfortable with Discomfort: Your decision is not primarily between comfort and discomfort, but between the pain of discipline and the pain of disappointment.
- S.T.O.P.: Consider the Space, Time, Objects, and People required for a task.
- Floss Just One Tooth: Break tasks into the smallest starting unit and start there.
- Think Forward, Reason Back: Instead of looking at the infinite possibilities for what to do next, you can think forward to your goal to identify what needs to happen to accomplish the goal.
- Use Neutral or Positive Language: When tempted to judge something negatively, consider the word “interesting” or use the phrase “I get to” in place of “I’ve got to.”
- Rehearse Novelty in Things That Don’t Matter: Order a different dessert, brush your teeth with your non-dominant hand, take an alternate route to school.
- Write it Down: Even for the most organized, working memory is a capacity that’s easy to stress out: getting thoughts and tasks down on paper will help you think better and get done what you need.
- Prioritize the Important over the Urgent: With time management and priority setting, do yourself a favor and watch Randy Pausch’s time management lecture.
- Visualize Time as Space: Tangible metaphors are remarkably helpful: ask what an hour looks like; draw on a clock with dry-erase markers; plot things on timelines; pace and move your head when thinking about the steps needed to finish a project.
- Pause When You’re on a Roll: When you start back up, you’ll identify with how good progress can feel.
- Be Kind to Yourself: Many of us give compassionate guidance to others; extend yourself the same grace.